Pending Home Coming

Only a couple more days until I head back to Winnipeg for a visit.

Google's Street View shows the family to be doing well:


Abner Jay

Really, really, really, check this out: The True Story of Abner Jay (c/o Bolachas)


Post-Macallan wrap-up

So, as noted in that last post, I attended a tasting of The Macallan scotch (site still not working for me unless it's intentionally biased against 27 year-olds) hosted by Matchstick and taking place in the gorgeous ONE Restaurant in Yorkville, part of Toronto's only 5-Star hotel and included some amazing appetizers from the restaurant's kitchen. With two extra passes I brought along Steph and Paul...

The Macallan produces some really nice scotches! We sampled 4 different single malts after a welcoming glass of their 10 Year Old Fine Oak: a 12 Year Old Sherry Oak, a 15 Year Old Fine Oak, an 18 Year Old Sherry Oak, and finally a 21 Year Old Fine Oak.

I wish I could remember our host's name - he was a charming 50-something French Canadian man (there was some speculation as to where he was from amongst us and our friend Brigitte but I deduced he must be Quebecois as his nostalgic slideshows, showing [mainly] memorable political and cultural events in increments based on our scotches' ages, kept showing racecar drivers and no one really cares about them other than residents of the American South and Midwest as well as the Quebecois...) who walked us through single-malt production practice (a very small "cut" of the drinkable scotch produced in a batch compared to industry standard, isolating the best-tasting liquid) and the specificities of The Macallan's distillery (smaller stills are a central aspect, allowing for the production of a stronger-tasting product), as well as the proper way to taste scotch (don't swirl it, don't shove your nose right in the glass, a drop or two of water breaks the surface tension and allows the aromas to rise to your nose, letting a scotch sit for ten or so minutes may allow different aromas to develop or strengthen as we noticed with the caramel nose of the 10 Y.O.).

In terms of the tasting, all four were very nice and we were able to notice distinct trends based on the aging process and which types of wood were used in the casks - sherry wood seemed to lend the scotch a stronger nose of vanilla and a taste recalling sharper, dried fruit while the fine oak casks gave a lighter fruit taste along with the lighter colour. As to the colours themselves, The Macallan does not follow the practice that apparently many other distilleries do of adding chemical caramel to their scotches in order to make them darker, perpetuating the belief that darker scotches are more flavourful, better scotches - this omission, while emphasized by our tasting guide, honestly does make me feel even better about this company and the "transparency" and honesty they seem to value. The custom of using sherry casks is another interesting aspect of scotch production of which I only knew part of, sherry having been the preferred drink of the monarchy in Britain historically, leading to a great number of available casks which now have to be specially requisitioned in Spain (other producers primarily use American bourbon casks - as Macallan does sometimes - which can legally only be used one time for bourbon production). I generally prefer very peat-y scotches and none of the Macallan scotches have any peat notes as they do not use peat in the drying of their barley. Nevertheless each one of their scotches had a very nice and distinct taste. Our general consensus was that the 18 Year Old Sherry Oak performed the best and I think I might have to find a bottle for my brother for Christmas, or at least convince someone else back in Winnipeg to buy a bottle so I can enjoy it at Christmas.

I'd really like to thank both Matchstick and The Macallan for this opportunity - who knew that as a graduate student I'd really enjoy drinking while learning about one of the chief pleasures in life at the same time?


Tonight I Drink Scotch!

In part because of my amazing blogging skills (if you're reading this you're asking yourself Whaaaaaaaaat?!? or else just getting mad and navigating away) but mostly because I asked about a pea coat once, tonight I will be tasting some scotch thanks to the good people at The Macallan. And I promise to report back on the various peaty notes once I sober up!


Overdue updates

Oh hey guys! It's been a while since I've updated! New things in my life include:
- so long Ottawa, I moved to Toronto and am living above ground and with my girlfriend after years of basement loneliness;
- the thesis was finished and defended (accepted with distinction, no changes requested);
- got a new little cat named Alvy Singer (orange tabby with some white spots);
- BBQ-ownership (yes!);
- there was a Winnipeg visit that happened w/Schnarr Lake trip as well (Steph's inaugural trip/trial by fire);
- I felt like I had more but maybe not (1st PhD course begins today, got some student cards, damaged my credit rating with PC Insurance and their auto-renewal, still no couch but a couple of comfortable chairs, I need a haircut again...)
Okay! Hopefully see you soon/more often!


Bar Fight

I just learned about this cartoon BAR FIGHT, from Christy Karacas, the mad genius behind the wonderful SUPERJAIL!, which I've been revisiting.

Get ready for joyful mayhem!


Nerdy Boyfriend

While I am one, I'm not speaking specifically about myself but rather this very impressive photo/fashion blog I've only recently learned about: http://nerdboyfriend.com/

Every couple of days whoever runs this thing posts a picture of some classy, classic man or man exhibiting some great (almost always) retro style followed by a number of picture links to products very similar to some of the clothes and accessories worn in the original photos. Since I am generally always in dire need of looking/dressing better I'll have to keep an eye on this url for sartorial advice (despite never being able to afford anything most likely - beware the Japanese products made with arcane and expensive production techniques I often cannot/will not pronounce)...



***Apathetic Update***

I don't seem to have much blogging in me lately. Everything interesting is already on some other blog and I don't feel like just linking. I don't want to talk about my thesis and I don't have anything funny or interesting to say.

I guess my time in Ottawa is running down, 17 more days or so. I'll miss things like the Manx and Bridgehead and the canal/locks, DiRienzo's and Kettleman's, probably the Mayfair most of all.

The beard came off a while ago and the moustache is going really strong, probably the strongest it's ever been now. I documented the beard in its last hours but I don't really want to upload pictures of that right now, or the moustache - you'll just have to take my word on it. The moustache has actually been getting compliments lately (it goes through stages in that regard), and the beard was a hit with some, so much so that it may make a repeat appearance when it's colder out. Who can really say though?

Anyway, want to see my bike? I might be leaving it behind but also may bring it along to Toronto. It's called the "Sky Wagon".



Let's just say things got a little more serious since that last post...


Thesis Beard

If all goes according to plan, I should have a draft of my thesis' final proper chapter done by Tuesday morning, meaning I will also be able to shear the thesis beard from my face. With Tuesday looming, I thought I might want to document the beard right now. Of course taking time to do this means getting further and further away from actually finishing, but oh well.
Full-face action:

And the profile (note the under-lip, "soul patch" area! I recently had the pleasure of a bus ride whereby I sat facing, across the aisle, a young gentleman whose face was devoid of facial hair save a long soul patch which curled slightly under his soft chin, bouncing slightly as he shredded a free newspaper. Perchance I will keep that part as a monument to his way of being in this world.):



Lately I got a couple new records like Pink Mountaintops' Outside Love, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart's self-titled record, and Tyvek's latest, but I've been bouncing back to Crystal Stilts a lot a lot alotalot:


Panaylotis Terzis

I'm planning on having these types of nightmares tonight!:


Calling out hipster bashing

I guess I haven't written here about how ridiculous and tacky I find most forms of hipster bashing but here's an interesting piece about it from Globe & Mail writer and fashionable man Russell Smith via Street Boners & TV Carnage's site.

In essence I think it comes down to people just not liking people who aren't them or their friends in front of them at concerts or in line for drinks or taking up table space in restaurants, or, more likely a reactionary stance against people whom one feels are looking down upon them mixed with a sense of revulsion at the recognition of someone who is "trying too hard" (these examples make up the more compelling photos on this site mentioned in the article linked above). I mean, "hipsters" or the "hipster" look has been around long enough that it's commodified to a large degree even to the point of seeping into mall culture, and that sets off alarms in the heads of people who have a sense of original "hipster" culture (how accurate their conception is, who knows, but that doesn't matter so much in terms of the way they react) and causes them to be disgusted by someone, say, donning a keffiyeh just because they're fashionable - marking them as a "poser" as they dress in that discursive drag that is "hipster" clothing - a combination of disgust at them for trying and disgust because they didn't get it right, whatever that means.

Essentially I think the worst part of the backlash against "hipsters" is that it's become a lazy label and a derogatory term that gets applied to people who are generally young and generally enjoy drinking and either making or listening to music or both and maybe want to wear something that's a little bit funny or else looks good. And I find it hard to fault that. And yes, maybe 90% of the people doing this type of thing could suck and be annoying, but basically 90% of any group you want to make sucks and is annoying (I learned that general statistic from some documentary on porn that I saw on the cable box years ago when living at home but it's pretty useful I think). So yeah, people trying to do anything that doesn't suit them to be popular or cool or feel better than other people is a bad thing, but don't do that reactionarily to someone who might not be thinking about you that way at all and doesn't really have any impact whatsoever on your life because I don't really see the point and you could probably do about a million things that are more productive or interesting or less tired than songs like this (such bad cinematography, even for an amateur video thing but maybe that's the film student in me).


They try so hard to break out of their little worlds...

Thesis concerns and mango skin oil sensitivities are making me a bad blogger again, but please enjoy this 24 year-old juggernaut of greatness:



I saw this last night at the Mayfair with my pal Mo and WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!! Maybe one of the most incredible westerns of all time?


Last Night a Zombie Ate My Brains

Last night was my first viewing of the entirety of Dan O'Bannon's George Romero-inspired 1985 punk zombie classic The Return of the Living Dead at the Mayfair.

Return takes the premise that the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead was an actual leak of an army chemical causing the dead to come back to life with a vicious thirst for brains, allowing for a certain level of self-awareness and genre play. When two workers at a medical supply warehouse knock a drum containing one of the victims it bursts open, spraying them with the contagion which eventually works its way, through the help of a crematorium and some acid rain, into the soil of the graveyard next door. There was nothing overtly disgusting in this movie other than finding out after that some of the zombie extras were paid more money to chew on actual calf brains, and the punk characters and music add some good levity and nudity, and the ending was pretty fantastic. Now I have to decide if it's worth it to follow up with any of the sequels.


This Time Tomorrow

I just watched Philippe Garrel's Les Amants RĂ©guliers (2005) upon the recommendation of a professorial candidate who noted that the film makes use of one of the same Kinks' songs used by Wes Anderson in The Darjeeling Limited (2007).

Garrel's placement of the song is interesting; the only real piece of diegetic music to be focused on in the film is situated almost exactly in the middle of the 3 hour film and seems to mark the happiest time experienced by the young Parisians in the aftermath of May '68. The song itself is an anachronism, not released until '70, but oh well.
Here's the Anderson usage at the end of this clip for contrast:

Special Friday bonus: here's a neat thing I didn't know about before for Criterion fans.


Over and Done With

This is a weird song to be in love with I suppose, but I fell hard:



I saw this 1991 piece of amazingness last night at the Mayfair theatre and it's a strong contender for Best Film Seen By Me in 2009:

(pt. 1 of 9 available on youtube)


For my friends, Matt & Matthew

From my beard to yours,



Clank & Randy

I know I just posted but my brother just emailed me this picture he'd scanned this afternoon of our dad playing backgammon with our grandpa. And I really like it.

Recent Consumerist Actions

It seems I've bought a lot of things lately, mostly old-type things. I will now show these things to you.

Fig. 1 - Marcel Dzama t-shirt, from Magic Pony, Toronto.

Fig. 2 - Super cheap Nike Waffle Racers, from Urban Outfitters, Toronto.

Fig. 3 - Vintage navy blue (w/brass accents) leather travel bag, from some store in Kensington Market whose name I forget, Toronto.

Fig. 4 - Vintage tan leather book bag, from Penny Arcade (I think), Toronto

Fig. 5 - Book bag interior.

Fig. 6 - Vintage wool cardigan, ivory with blue buttons (top two are smaller than the rest), Value Village, Ottawa.

Fig. 7 - Finally, new glasses: vintage French frames circa 1960s (stamped "Jules" inside the right arm), from EyeMaxx, Ottawa.

I feel sort of dirty now.


in Blue

Lately I keep listening to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" while writing. I don't know if it's helping or not but I sure am enjoying it.

(from Woody Allen's Manhattan)


the Dark Side of Fairey

You're not getting a picture with this post for a reason...
I just needed to get this off my chest: if I never see another riff on Shepard Fairey's red, white, and blue Obama graphic it'll be too soon. It's not that it's not a great graphic because it is and I've loved his work since (he's where I claim old-school legitimacy, ready?) reading about him in Transworld Skateboarding when I was in grade 9, but I'm getting older and crustier and something about sudden ubiquity just sticks in my craw (that's a thing that crusty old people say). Actually some of that is probably a reaction to the Canadian Obama-mania. Excellent news for the world, definitely! But! He's still got a lot of work to do! I think the best thing that excited people could do is maybe not buy an Obama t-shirt but instead be inspired to do something locally that echoes the hopes for a proactive, constructive term down south.

His Winnipeg

I finally got around to doing my ex-civic duty and watched Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg tonight. For those who don't know (this means nobody since the movie got great reviews all over and popped up on a bunch of year-end best-of lists in the last two months, and everyone saw it before me anyway), it's a pseudo-documentary on Winnipeg shot in Maddin's regular expressionist-influenced style, mixing Winnipeg history, his own biography, and some great made up truths all about the city. Watching the Arena get torn down all over again was hard to watch, and I caught a cameo by Marcel Dzama's dad (familiar from deco dawson's film: dzama) as Black Tuesday hockey player "Smiley" Dzama, causing me to remember deco's rationale for casting Dzama Sr. as his own son for the film because of the perma-smile that set itself upon Marcel's face every time he stepped in front of the camera. Anyway, if you haven't seen this film yet, well then, dummy, get on it - for your movie health!



After some time apart Overheard in New York has recaptured my love with this little gem about the Polish here.


olde tymes

once again it's been a really long time since I've blogged at ya - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - lately it's been marking and applying to doctoral programs that I'm not feeling ultra-confident about - - - - - - - -

here's an old throw-back favorite that I'm listening to right now actually: